Photo Book Review: Vivian Maier, A Photographer Found

It could be said that American photographer Vivian Maier was one of a kind. The embodiment of the new liberated modern women, she was never afraid to speak her mind—often very passionately—and explore the world on her own terms. Born in the Bronx, New York to a French mother and Austrian father, Maier was an intensely private person. Her life remains a mystery of sorts but a new book is certainly effective at pulling back that dark curtain.

Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found is presented as a definitive monograph of Maier’s life and her work. Written and edited by noted photography curator (and writer) Marvin Heiferman, it offers the reader a collection of 250 black-and-white photographs, color shots and a selection of other materials that have never been seen before. Many of the images were discovered, rescued and purchased by John Maloof.

The story of Maier, who was a virtually unknown photographer until her powerful work was discovered a few years ago by Maloof in a storage locker, was detailed in the 2013 documentary "Finding Vivian Maier," released on DVD this past summer.

Maier could best be described as a secretive lady working as a nanny with a great talent for photography. Unknown in her lifetime, she became a popular sensation shortly after her death. Information about her has been pieced together from previously seen (or known) images she captured and some facts that have come to light regarding her life.

She is known to have captured more than 100,000 images, which she kept hidden. In 2007, shortly before her death, Chicago historic preservationist John Maloof discovered a treasure trove of her negatives and countless rolls of undeveloped film in a storage locker that he bought at auction. This happy discovery revealed the work of an accomplished artist, which Maloof then chose to champion and bring to the world’s attention.

Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found offers us a large selection of her work—images created during the 1950s to the 1970s in New York, Chicago and various other locations around the country. The book includes images that are almost exclusively unpublished as well as some of her previously unknown color work. It features images of (and excerpts from) Maier’s personal artifacts, memorabilia and audiotapes. This book also draws upon recently conducted interviews with people who knew her, which sheds some much needed light on her photographic skills, inspiration, personal views and her life.

Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found; photographs by Vivian Maier, edited by John Maloof, text by Marvin Heiferman; Harper Design; $80; (ISBN: 9780062305534)

More info on the book here.

Another Vivian Maier book, titled Eye to Eye: Photographs by Vivian Maier, was introduced in August.

A new Vivian Maier exhibitition, titled "Vivian Maier: In Her Own Hands," opens this week in New York City. The show includes many images from Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found. Details below.


Vivian Maier: In Her Own Hands

On view from October 30 to December 6, 2014. Howard Greenberg Gallery, 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406, New York, NY. 

More information at the Howard Greenberg Gallery website.